Amateurish historians often tell us that we must study the past to avoid repeating its mistakes. Such efforts rarely work out well. Laurie Maffly-Kipp, by contrast, offers an unusual, complex and thoughtful approach to history.
There clearly has been a marked rise of interest in the Crusades since the start of the present war in Iraq--an interest spurred at least in part by President George W. Bush's talk of an American crusade against terror in the days following the 9/11 attacks. Up to this point, the renaissance in publications about the Crusades largely has been limited to works that fit squarely within traditional historical scholarship. Stark and Housley, on the other hand, provide Crusades volumes for an age in which information is targeted to distinct and splintered interest groups.
The Central African Republic is being torn apart by strife between Muslims and Christians. A Catholic church in one small town has taken in about 650 Muslims who are seeking sanctuary from Christian marauders. Father Xavier Fagba, the priest at the church, knows that some Muslims hiding in his church attacked Christian families in the past year. The priest is determined to keep providing sanctuary because “the Muslims discovered in our church that the God we worship is the same as their God. And that’s the vision the whole of this country needs to have,” the priest said (BBC, February 13).